Dubstep is now an ugly, bloated mess.
It's out of shape – where once there was muscle, now there is fat. Where once there was sleek, skeletal design now there are a random assortment of sonic weapons, firing randomly and injuring ears across the planet.
All is not lost, however. A new breed of producers are reaching back, exploring the facets which made dubstep such an intimidating, exciting proposition back in its initial flowering.
Dubbed 'the dungeon sound' by Youngsta, it finds an advocate in Plastician whose new Dubstep Allstars' mix seems to draw from the same well. Featuring a plethora of original productions, ClashMusic decided to ask Plastician to name some of the productions which inspired him during the making of his new material.
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TGS – On Tha Run (Horsepower Productions Remix)
I could've chosen almost any Horsepower track from their back catalogue to help epitomise the vibe I tried to replicate in the early stages of my Allstars mix, but this remix of On Tha Run is perhaps my favourite Horsepower track ever. The way Horsepower produce the drums to compliment the sound of the samples and film score they use in so many of their tracks is something often overlooked in today's much cleaner style of production, particularly at the more commercial and established end of the dubstep sound. They keep just enough dirt on the drums which doesn't alienate them from the sound effects and ambience from the film samples which are mainly lifted from Benny Ill's vast VHS collection. It takes some skill to pull this off but it is evident in every Horsepower track. The Jaydrop tracks in the Allstars mix particularly remind me of the Horsepower style and form the base of the beginning of the selection – very much how Horsepower paved the way for everything that came after them back in the early days of dubstep.
Macabre Unit – Lift Off
Although I'm pretty sure there was never anything produced quite like this before it was released, I'm also pretty sure nothing since it's release has been like it either. I have to include it in this list purely because of the memories it holds for me. When this track used to drop in the clubs back when I was playing it around 2004 – 2007 (if my memory serves me correctly) it used to stand out so much from all the tracks being mixed around it. You could put this next to a grime track by somebody like Terror Danjah, or you could mix it right out of an early Coki production like Haunted. Somehow this track just worked. I love versatile tracks like this which are almost genreless. This track personifies that era in the dubstep movement where things started to get more experimental, and I feel like we're going through a similar transition right now, with so many new influences within the sound, people are trying hard to create music that is both explorational, but simple enough for it to work across various platforms and genres. Tracks like this keep scenes evolving as they provide the glue that links various sounds together and allow DJ's the freedom to break the mould as opposed to sticking to what is expected of them.
Joker – Digidesign
Joker has always been a master of melodies and this for me was when he really stepped up his game. His use of simple riffs and cute chord progressions in this track works so well, and it's one of my favourite tunes from the later stages of what is widely spoken of as dubstep's golden era. When I first met Joker he was 15 years old, his tracks he would send me back then were hugely influenced by video games and even here that influence is still audible. I think 90% of music being created in today's world will be influenced somehow by video games or sounds which are emitted from various forms of technology. Joker was one of the first producers of his generation to come to light so I think it's important to add this to my list as for me it represents the new generation of young producers coming through now. People like Swindle, Guido and Starkey are still championing this style of production and it seems to be almost timeless. All of the old Joker stuff from that era still sounds fresh today and I think that the same will be said of the other producers I've just mentioned if you listen back to their current releases in a few years' time.
Skream – Shake It
Skream has released so many classic tracks over the years but this track for me again was along the lines of the sound I was trying to emulate when selecting for the Allstars mix. It's got so much swing to it, and manages to find a perfect harmony between the dark, grimy tones and the uplifting shuffle of the drums and effects. Listening to it definitely conjours up memories of standing right next to the bassbins at Plastic People. You can almost feel the tidal sway of heads from left to right that would fill the room in the club, it's definitely one of those tracks that we don't hear enough any more but certainly a track for the people who used to make the trip to plastic people every fortnight, or every week – I forget exactly what the rotation was at FWD around that time, but it was certainly not as far back as the monthly events. Anyway, rambling done – this one had to get a mention. Great track and perhaps Skream's most under-rated production in my opinion.
The Bug – Jah War (Loefah Remix)
For me, this is the best example of when dubstep and grime come together in perfect harmony. I still remember the first time I heard this. I was stood to the right of the booth at mass for DMZ. I had literally just arrived and Loefah and Digital Mystikz were playing back to back as they always do. As I entered the main room there was a huge cheer which suggested I had arrived right on time for something special. Obviously I'd just missed a huge reload (as much as I'd like to have thought the cheer was for my own entrance). The track started back up again and I was greeted to the dance by the sound of Flow Dan on the intro of what dropped into the most brutal growl of sub bass and half time drums, complimented further by the vocals of Flow Dan's verse. It was not long before the track was pulled up once more for us all to enjoy the rush of that initial introduction of bass from the intro of this monster tune. Having always had a foot in each of the sounds, I was especially excited to hear Loefah remixing a track with Flow Dan on it. It was still rare to hear grime MC's on dubstep tracks back then, you could probably count on one hand the amount of tracks there were. This one goes in as I still to this day love when the two scenes combine to make something really special. And for me, there still isn't anything that quite hits the spot as well as this one!
Introduction by Robin Murray
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'Dubstep Allstars Vol. 10' is set to be released via Tempa on February 4th.
Iron & Wine is set to release his new album 'Ghost On Ghost' through 4AD on April 15th.
Sam Beam continues to evolve. 2011's full length 'Kiss Each Other Clean' saw Iron & Wine venture into lush territory, with the songwriter foregoing his sparse, intense, earlier style for something with broader brushstrokes.
Now the American artist is ready to make his next move. Once again working with 4AD, Iron & Wine is set to release his new album 'Ghost On Ghost' later this year. Released on April 15th, the new material seems to find Iron & Wine in relaxed form.
A quick quote from Sam Beam: "This record felt like a reward to myself after the way I went about making the last few".
Recorded in New York, 'Ghost On Ghost' was pieced together with the assistance of Brian Deck and contains contributions from the likes of (deep breath) Rob Burger of Tin Hat Trio, Steve Bernstein, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wollesen, and Briggan Krauss of Sex Mob, jazz drummer Brian Blade, trombonist Curtis Fowlkes of the Jazz Passengers, bassist Tony Garnier (Bob Dylan's band), cellist Marika Hughes, Maxim Moston and Doug Wieselman of Antony and the Johnsons, and Anja Wood.
Here's 'Lover's Revolution'.
'Ghost On Ghost' is set to be released on April 15th. Tracklisting:
1. Caught in the Briars
2. The Desert Babbler
4. Low Light Buddy of Mine
5. Graces for Saints and Ramblers
6. Grass Windows
7. Singers and the Endless Song
8. Sundown (Back in the Briars)
9. Winter Prayers
10. New Mexico’s No Breeze
11. Lovers’ Revolution
12. Baby Center Stage
Photo Credit: Craig Kief
Frightened Rabbit are ready to jump into the big leagues.
Back by their new major label home Atlantic, the Scottish group may just have completed the most confident, strident album of their career – one that matches heart on sleeve lyrics to soaring arrangements worthy of stadiums.
At heart, though, the group remain capable of the most whispered, intimate moments. 'Pedestrian Verse' may well be a titanic rock experience, but at it's core Frightened Rabbit remain, thankfully, Frightened Rabbit.
One of the new album's real high points, 'Late March, Death March' is typically fraught with emotion. Captured performing the track in a stripped back acoustic session, Frightened Rabbit peel back the taut arrangement to reveal the quivering, tender core.
Watch it now.
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As a young musician, producer, promoter or anyone who’s looking to start a career in the music business it’s always hard to know what the right choices are or even what sort of challenges lie ahead of you. As with any career, getting started can be extremely daunting. You can ask friends, family, teachers, but nothing is quite as helpful as hearing it from those who have made a long and successful career in the industry already.
This is what Rising: Futures sets out to do. By pitching some of the most respected names from the cultural world against a group of hungry, talented youngsters in an interactive debate on what opportunities are available to those just starting out and the best ways to kickstart one’s career.
The event is split into three parts – Interact, Debate and Network.
Interact sees participants work alongside experts from the music industry in a series of intensive masterclasses and advice sessions focusing on careers in the music industry.
Debate is a question and answer session with a panel of the country’s most respected names from music, arts, and culture, including Chase and Status’s Will Kennard.
Finally you’ll get the chance to do a bit of networking with your fellow attendees, making new friends and continuing the debate.
Rising:Futures is part of Roundhouse Rising, a 10 day festival of up and coming musical talent held at the Roundhouse between 14th – 24th February 2013. Clash is proud to be the official media partner of the festival and have a pair of tickets to give away for Rising: Futures. Please note that this is only open 16-25 year olds.
To enter, just answer this question:
In which London Borough is the Roundhouse located?
To find out more about the festival and to book tickets visit – http://www.roundhouse.org.uk/rising/overview
If you can’t get hold of tickets then you can catch the action from the 4 Hub sessions live on Clashmusic.com on 17th 18th, 19th and 20th February
HMV staff have live tweeted information of a mass redundancy via the firm's official account.
Just when you thought HMV couldn't encounter even more bad publicity…
The high street brand collapsed in the opening days of 2013, with spiralling debt pulling HMV under. Placed in administration, up to 4000 jobs were put at risk while staff at two Irish stores held sit in protests after failing to receive their wages.
This afternoon HMV seemingly held a meeting for staff, and informed 60 people that they were to lose their jobs. Clearly anticipating the move, some industrious souls took their iPhone and live tweeted the incident across the brand's official account.
The full list of tweets (since deleted) are below. (via Gigwise)
Conquering Animal Sound are set to release their second album 'On Floating Bodies' through Chemikal Underground on March 18th.
Poetic, illusive. Machine-like, organic. Mysterious, pop. Conquering Animal Sound emerged from a Glasgow recording studio back in 2011 clutching their debut album, and 'Kammerspiel' quickly went on to enchant anyone who encountered it.
Not that anyone figured it out. A beautifully complex work, the album matches bizarre, off kilter electronics with a fluid sense of melody that seemed to glue the disparate elements together.
Now the band have completed a follow up. Chemikal Underground are set to release Conquering Animal Sound's second album, with 'On Floating Bodies' due to emerge on March 18th.
New track 'Ultimate Heat Death Of The Universe' has emerged online. A bit like Bjork singing along to a classic Gameboy soundtrack, there's a playfulness at work here which belies Conquering Animal Sound's ferociously intelligent nature.
Listen to it now.
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'On Floating Bodies' is set to be released on March 18th.
Photo Credit: Grieg Jackson
Green Day are amongst the latest additions to the line up of Optimus Alive.
Hosted in Lisbon, Optimus Alive is fast emerging as one of the continent's top live music events. Cheap flights from the UK are connecting more and more British fans each year, with work well under way on this summer's instalment.
Green Day are set to headline Optimus Alive, emerging from slumber after Billie Joe Armstrong's much publicised onstage outburst last year.
Preparing to get back out on the road, the American punk group will top the bill at the Lisbon event. Elsewhere, Editors are set to take part with acclaimed 4AD signing Twin Shadow also due to perform.
Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro recently completed one of the most ambitious albums of their career, and the Ayrshire trio will toast 'Opposites' at Optimus Alive.
Other new additions include Mercury nominees Django Django, with Phoenix, Of Monsters & Men and alt-j all due to take part.
Tickets are on sale now, as a bonus for fans the organisers of Optimus Alive have teamed up with TAP Airlines to offer festival goers a 10% discount on their flights.
Optimus Alive runs between July 12th – 14th.
Spectral R&B powerhouse inc. will travel to Europe later this year for a full set of live dates.
R&B is being re-invented. A new breed of artists are taking the sound and inverting it, finding melancholy where there was once euphoria, grief where there was once hope.
inc. aren't quite as desperate as all that. Sure, the 4AD signings have a downbeat sound, but Andrew and Daniel Aged also have an unmistakeable sense of glamour half-inched from their source material.
Debut album 'no world' was written across the winter months of 2011, and boasts a sense of fragility alongside its sonic opulence. Out on February 18th, the pair have now confirmed a full European tour.
Shows include a date at the Berghain, before inc. finally head to the UK. Ending with shows in Manchester and London, the duo are set to play capital venue Concrete on April 11th.
Stream '5 Days' below.
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inc. are set to play the following UK shows:
10 Manchester Trof Fallowfield
11 London Concrete
Photo by Natasha Ghosn
With the same Jamie Hawkesworth image that appeared on J.W. Anderson’s SS13 menswear invite, this sweatshirt offers a more commercial angle for the label. Equal parts cool as a cucumber and comfy as a couch, you’ll find us on the oki-ni site, right about, now.
Dave Grohl is no stranger to finding comedic value in the most unlikely of places. You only have to cast your mind back to the videos for hit tracks 'Everlong' and 'Long Road to Ruin' to see how he and the rest of the Foo Fighters clan often used music videos as a comedic outlet, even if laughter and joviality were far from what the songs inspired.
When Soundgarden announced that Grohl was set to direct the video for their recently released single ‘By Crooked Steps’, high jinx and humour seemed a more than unlikely fit for the heavy, hard-rock track. In a behind the scenes interview, Grohl explained that this was in fact exactly what inspired him: "I had an idea. I got a copy of the record and the third song was a signature, instantly recognizable Soundgarden track".
Grohl has the band poke fun of their rock image by taking to the streets of LA, leather-clad and on segways to wage war on the less than impressive Dj scene that appears to have taken over. Although the video is little more than farcical, it does shine a spot light on the band’s recent whirlwind success ever since their decision to reform two years ago.
Watch it now.
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'By Crooked Steps' is the third single to be released from Soundgarden’s 2012 album King Animal, their first album in over fifteen years which has received huge acclaim and rave reviews. The first single from the album ‘Been Away too Long’ topped the Active Rock Charts in the US for five whole weeks.
Soundgarden are also on a sold-out winter tour to promote the album and reunite with fans after their fifteen year hiatus. After finding the time to perform at Obama’s inauguration earlier this month, the band are also preparing to headline MMR-BQ as well as perform at Rock on the Range this summer.
Words by Lucy Simmonds